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Labrador owner-operators support lifting vessel-length restrictions in light of rougher seas

That seemed to be the census of the Labrador enterprise owners who took part Tuesday evening in a DFO virtual outreach meeting. Seas off Labrador were always some of the roughest around, but in recent years the wind rarely stops blowing, and extending the cap on vessel length in the inshore fleet to 50 feet from 40 feet will mean safer boats.

DFO has scheduled an outreach meeting for this evening (Wednesday, Feb. 23rd, 7-9 p.m.) for fishing zones 4R3Pn. Here's the link to the zoom meeting:

Enterprise owners said they should be allowed to go as big as they want when fishing up to 70 miles off Labrador. “We only have a certain quota to bring in.”

They said the weather is getting worse every year. “I’ve never seen so much wind in my life,” to the point it was a challenge just to do snow crab surveys. “Don’t put us out there in something too small, off the Labrador coast is one of the roughest spots around.”


“Yes it’s time to change. Fair is fair. The Maritimes went to 50 (feet in vessel length) and offshore here went from 65 to 90 and we went from 35 to 40. That’s a joke. Transport Canada and DFO preaches safety, now please let us practice safely.”


But while all agreed safety is the highest priority, concern was also expressed that bigger boats from Newfoundland may someday head north for cod, which is growing as snow crab off Labrador has all but disappeared.

“If we increase boat size we’ll see a deluge of (Newfoundland) boats off the Labrador coast,” and “all the cod is in 2J, and Labrador will be squeezed out.”

One fisherman told the story of how years ago Richard Cashin (founder of the FFAW) met with the fishermen of Labrador and was in favour of allowing bigger fishing boats of up to 44’11 in length for fishermen from there, but the proposal was rejected after Cashin returned to Newfoundland.

DFO officials on the virtual call weren’t familiar with the details.

DFO plans to poll all owner-operator inshore harvesters by e-mail in their coming months to determine their support for increasing vessel length, but the point was also made that only owner-operators in the under 40 fleet should be polled.

One fisherman called for a study of snow crab off Labrador to see whether somethings killing it. One fisherman reported steaming through dead caplin and turrs that seagulls wouldn’t eat, questing whether the fish/birds may have been poisoned or killed by seismic activity.

During the outreach meetings DFO pushed for harvesters to make use of DFO's national online licensing system or NOLS over telephone calls or in-person meetings.

While many fishermen may know sonar/radar like the back of their hands, they aren't so savvy with computers, and the Internet is poor is many rural areas.

DFO officials are advised not to underestimate the reassuring sound of a voice at the other end of the line.

DFO's one-on-one contact with harvesters needs continuous work.

AGENDA OF DFO OUTREACH MEETINGS 1) Introduction 2) licenSing requests, NOLS and service standards. 3) Vessel Length/replacement policy 4) Inshore Regulations 5) Open Agenda Ryan Cleary, Executive Director, SEA-NL To read more about SEA-NL, and for owner-operators to join please visit our website or e-mail

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